Garowe, July 29, 2019
Said Shidaad H. Hussein, a historian and social sciences professional had presented anthropological studies to a gathering of invited guests at PDRC Conference Hall last night. It was a serious and polite attempt on the part of Said Shidaad to engage in knowledge production, and to shed light on some of the historical misconceptions and misinformation by European scholars on Somali studies. Shidaad had produced the highlights of his 16-year research work into the ancient history of Somalia many centuries before Islam and traces of ancient cities all over Somalia to back it up.
Shidaad’s work is the first attempt I have seen to refute the findings of European sociologists that Somalis were always a bunch of grazing nomadic tribes moving from places to places in search of water-holes and grazing land for their herds. He had produced pictures showing traces of ancient settlements and towns that had disappeared and artifacts never produced by European explorers and anthropologists like Richard Burton, Captain Speke, I.M. Lewis, Enrico Cerulli, among others.
Reading, passionate studies of social sciences and scholarship on knowledge production is rare among Somali academics. That is why I found Shidaad’s work unique and quite impressive, to say the least.
Said Shidaad Hussein, however, seemed unappreciative of the extent of historical distortions, misconceptions and misreading by European scholars in regards to Somali studies, and how to handle centuries of fallacies and biased approach to Somali anthropological studies. These misconceptions and misreading of Somali studies helped colonial powers, including Abyssian Empire, to create their own biased narrative of Somalia, its history and culture, dismissing Somalis as wandering tribes in semi-deserts, incapable of forming a nation-state. Nevertheless, his work was commendable and a good beginning. He is also a role model for those interested in knowledge production on Somalia’s social studies.